Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Imperfect Mothering

I read the New York Times piece about Le Conflit: La Femme et La Mere by Elisabeth Badinter and the online comments it generated with great interest.  I vividly remember how tied to home I felt when I was nursing my two boys.  For the first several months in each of their lives, they nursed for about an hour every two hours or so, which meant that I was basically always either sitting with them at my breast, or changing their diapers.  I couldn't do anything while I was nursing - I just never was able to develop those skills, especially since they were big babies and it took both of my arms to hold them - so it was basically just time on the couch, day after day.  Pumping didn't help - it took just as long to fill the bottle as it did to breastfeed.  As they got older, I used formula for most of the daytime feedings -- no one seems to talk about mixing it up, but doing so allowed me to have a more normal life and go back to work (and neither of them experienced the so-called "nipple confusion") -- while still nursing first thing in the morning and at night.  The human body is an amazing thing, and my milk production quickly adjusted to accommodate this schedule.  But here's the thing: I just don't see how I could have added cloth diapers to the mix without outside help.  At the time, I didn't have a washing machine in my apartment and can't see how I would have fit in all that time at the laundry.  I find that motherhood is about making compromises and it saddens me that women are being pressured to do things just one way because it is fashionable.

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